Create a Green Business Plan

by Marcos Cordero, LEED AP, CEO and Co-founder , Green Business Bureau

The economic downturn can present a real opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs.   After all, companies like Proctor & Gamble, IBM, General Electric, General Motors and FedEx made their names during other financially dim periods.   If you’re thinking of starting your own business today, you have a real opportunity to make your mark by incorporating green practices into your brand from the very earliest planning stages.

Today’s consumers are eco-conscious and looking for products and services that satisfy their desire to be environmentally responsible and successful businesses know that environmental sustainability equals economic sustainability. According to the 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey and the LOHAS Journal:

  • 35%of Americans have a higher interest in the environment today than they did in 2008
  • 35% of Americans have higher expectations for companies to make and sell environmentally responsible products and services during the economic downturn.
  • Despite the current economy, four out of five people say they are still buying green products and services today, and 19 % say they are buying more green products.
  • Green consumers are willing to pay a premium (usually over 20%) on clean, green products over non-sustainable alternatives

These numbers show that going green can be a profitable decision.   However, while going green can present logistical challenges for established firms, with issues ranging from difficulties in securing green vendors to lack of employee buy-in, as a startup you have the unique opportunity to plan for green from the very moment of your new venture’s inception.

Planning for green early in your business’ life cycle will set you up to succeed.   As with all startups, your first step is to write your business plan.   There are several places within your plan to lay out your green practices. Sections where you can incorporate discussions on your green business practices include:

  • Vision and Mission Statements: These are concise outlines of your business principles and goals.   Include your vision of what your green business will look like and how being green will tie into your mission, and incorporate it into this all-important statement of purpose.
  • Company Summary: This is where you will define and describe your business and the markets you will serve.   Think about the green practices you intend to employ and how they will integrate into your overall business definition.   Include the green markets you will address.
  • Market Analysis: In addition to describing the economic environment of which your business will become a part, use this section is to explain how your green business practices will address regulatory requirements and the needs of your target market, and how they will set you apart from your competition.
  • Strategy and Implementation Summary: This is a good place to expand upon the competitive edge green practices will give you. You can also map out green milestones for achieving sustainability goals.
  • Personnel Plan: Designate a position to act as your business’ green guru” or sustainability officer. This person will have overall responsibility for the implementation of your green business plans.

There is an old saying, fail to plan and you plan to fail.”   In today’s eco-conscious markets, you can change that to read green your plan and you plan to succeed!”   As a new business owner, take advantage not only of the technologies and materials that allow you to operate a green business, but of the planning period that will allow you to incorporate green practices into every aspect of your new venture.

For more information, read the Green Business Bureau’s blog post Starting a Green Business.

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